Last month, I attended the video shoot for The Dead Rabbits' "Feelin' Regret."
I and others who follow the local Celtic punk-rockers were enticed to attend by the band's Facebook event page, with its promise of free barbecue and beer. Good thing we showed up. We ate a bunch of sausage and floated a keg of Bombshell Blonde. And, we added to the very Houston vibe of the video.
From the first scene, it's apparent the Rabbits' warren is in the Bayou City. The opening frame is a close up of Southern Star beer cans and Yellow Rose whiskey bottles. Both beverages are concocted here in Houston -- OK, Southern Star is in Conroe, but close enough.
The clip opens on the Rabbits arguing at the Hell 'N Highwater bar (or tavern or pub, take your pick), which is located inside Texas Roadhouse Live's northwest Houston-area studio. The band selected Houston-based film and video producers MotionArts to shoot the footage for the song, one of a dozen on its debut CD Tiocfaidh Ar La (Our Day Will Come).
The Houston Press Music Award-winning band and its fans do the rest. Seamuis Strain's Irish lilt and Josh Raught's Pasadena pop-punk twang don't sound at odds at all bouncing off one another. Not in a city like Houston, where every accent and affectation is evident in practically any conversation.
There's some excellent musicianship at work here, which is easy to miss if one can't get past the chaos and occasional silliness The Dead Rabbits revel in. That empty whiskey bottle at the top of the footage isn't just a prop. The guys drained it long before filming started.
And the way they're arguing and talking all over each other is basically how they normally communicate. Even at the end of the video, when the whole band throws crushed beer cans at banjo picker Micah Raught -- I'm pretty sure I've seen them do that even when no cameras were rolling. Raught's banjo threads the song together, and James Devall's fiddle playing is stellar. It's nice to hear these instruments mixed so well on the finished CD, taking their rightful places next to the guitars and drums that can overwhelm them at live shows.
Some notes about the filming process from an observer who was drinking beer and eating sausage far from the eye of the camera:
MotionArts' Jessica Perry shot some footage for the video, sometimes while standing precariously atop the bar. She's a musician too, in the band Vanilla Sugar, and probably has some notions about what music fans would find interesting in a video.
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The guy having liquor poured down his gullet at the three-minute mark is my son. I know, proud papa, right? His band was invited to play the video wrap party. His mother and I watched in horror as The Dead Rabbits all but drowned him just a few yards from us. The director said cut, then action and the scene played out again and again. Spying my concern, Josh Raught came over to tell me the "liquor" was really just water;
Texas Roadhouse Live's local studio is a hidden gem located in one of those industrial office parks that look like oversized Storage Wars bins. Inside, it's pretty swanky, with a stage, office space and a backstage green room for bands;
The filming process required repeated lip-syncing of the song, which was played over the studio's state-of-the-art sound system. It got a little tedious for the band, but I was still humming the tune on the drive home later that night;
The guys from Drink of Ages attended the filming and talked about their trip to Great American Beer Fest. If you haven't caught their radio show on 92.1 FM, it always includes a local music guest. Recently, they've featured The Suffers and Folk Family Revival;
Line from the song/video that sums up The Dead Rabbits experience for those who've never heard them: "I never thought I'd drink so much I couldn't drink no more/ The only time I'm looking up I'm looking from the floor;"
When filming was complete, the Rabbits stayed on to do a show for the fans who came to support the video. Strain promised lots of songs,...except for "Feelin' Regret."
Dead Rabbits perform Saturday night at Eastdown Warehouse, 850 McKee. The Sawyer Family and Deadend Cowboys open; doors at 8 p.m.
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